This day four years ago, I’d been up since 6am. I’d spent an hour driving round Edinburgh to put A Boards up outside polling stations, before standing outside Barclay Church with my rosette on, chatting to a young Tory and smiling at voters in the hope that it might persuade them to vote Green. When the polls closed I grabbed some dinner with DorkyDad, and we headed out to Ingliston for a long and depressing night at the Lothian count.
Today, I’ve been up since 6am. I spent an hour making breakfast, playing with trucks and reading books to DorkySon, before toddling up the road to go and vote. When the polls close I will probably be tucked up in bed, although if DorkySon wakes up at 2am and shouts for me to tuck Peter Rabbit’s toes back in, like he did last night, I may well have a sneaky peek on my iPad to see what results are in.
It feels very odd. Last time round, I was a candidate, this time round I haven’t even stuck a poster in my window. (Although I am still happy for my voting choices to be known – Labour for the constituency vote, Green for the list vote, Yes To AV). Last time round I got a mention on the Scottish Blog Roundup for being one of the few candidates to use Facebook as a campaign tool. This time round I haven’t even added a Twibbon to my profile picture.
There are many, many people who manage to do a great job of combining political activism and parenting – some of them at the very highest levels of politics – but I’m afraid I am not one of them. There are only so many hours in the day, and if it comes down to a choice between pounding up and down tenement stairs delivering eve of poll cards or giving my son a bath and reading his bedtime story, then my son is always going to win.
I am aware that this is a pretty selfish stance. Ironically it is only when you become a parent that you start to truly appreciate some of the gains that have been hard-won by those activists that came before you. Every time I take DorkySon to the doctor, or to the local library, or walk past the school he’ll be attending in a few years, I am grateful to live in a place where those services are available… and then I start to worry that the ongoing cuts are going to make them less and less available. As DorkySon grows older I hope to re-engage more actively with party politics, and start doing some of the grunt work again.
But in the meantime, all I really want to say today is thank you. Thank you to everyone who has been out doing the dirty work for the last month – the canvassing, the street stalls, the leaflet drops. No matter how much you believe in what you’re doing, that kind of work is not much fun, and very often comes with scant reward.
For the rest of us, the very least we can do is take five minutes out of the day to go and vote. And make sure we smile at the folk wearing rosettes outside the Polling Station, because they’ve probably been there a while.